Overview of the Organized Alignments
Originally, the forces of Good, Evil, Chaos, and Order were confined to the hearts and actions of men, women, and other intelligent beings. Over time, like sought out like. Various social structures formed, which took on the characteristics of their individual members.
Lord British eventually established the Virtue Guards. The public goal of these citizens was to encourage others to follow the paths of the eight Virtues. There was an unstated goal as well, one known only, he thought, to Lord British himself. Lord British had learned of the many shards of the broken Gem of Immortality, each shard containing an imperfect replica of Sosaria. Souls of all creatures had been shattered into a thousand parts. Only if the peoples of Sosaria followed the Virtues could the shattered pieces be made whole.
Lord Blackthorn had innocently overheard the messenger explain the shattered state of Sosaria to Lord British. Unlike his friend, Blackthorn accepted his broken self. Further, he rebelled at the very concept of bringing a thousand pieces back to one whole. What was done was done. He also disliked the concept of forcing the people to follow the Virtues. Lord British was not the parent of all in Sosaria, nor did his Virtue Guards have the right to attempt to enforce them. Thus Lord Blackthorn established the Chaos Guards. These were not seekers of evil, nor did they oppose the eight virtues. Instead, their goal was to allow freedom, sometimes anarchy, in ways that neither man would necessarily approve.
The Virtue Guards were supposed to be a force for good. Over time, the constant fighting with the Chaos Guards, and, quite honestly, lack of leadership from Lord British, caused them to lose part of the very virtue they said they were fighting for. Eventually, very few thought of them as Virtue Guards any more. The people began calling them Order Guards.
Both groups of guards eventually fell into a state of greyness. They could not be called good, nor could they be called evil. For sure, some members of each were truly good, and fought for good. But just as surely, other members lacked principles to live by. The actions of these Guards were often self-serving and petty.¹
Then Minax warred with the world. She is truly evil, and serves no one but herself. Her power is great, and she and her followers almost conquered Sosaria. In the end she failed. But she was still able to curse the land and most of the Virtue Shrines themselves. Lord British and his advisors were not able to lift the curse. In seeking to do so, however, a mirror world of Sosaria was found. This one was not cursed, and its shrines were intact. Free transport between the worlds was given to people. Many chose to stay with their original world, now named after Felucca, one of the two moons of Sosaria. Most could not bear the hardships and barrenness. They moved to the uncursed world of Trammel, named for the other moon.
Devastation begets devastation, and change begets change. Many who were clearly aligned with good wondered why Lord British could not have protected his kingdom better. Lord British' own Order Guards often seemed too busy with petty skirmishes with Chaos Guards to act as an effective force against Minax.
The Council of Mages was formed by those good citizens who had lost complete faith in the leadership of Lord British. Those who continued to support him became polarized, and called themselves True Brittanians. The fighters for Good began fighting each other as well as Evil itself.
The Followers of Minax had a similar split. While she was winning, her authority was accepted as absolute. Then she lost the campaign to rule Sosaria. This, along with the fact that she often treated her supporters with the same cruelty and disdain as her opponents, caused a second organized force for Evil to be formed. These people had no respect for order of any sort. They seek the ultimate anarchy. They feel this can be achieved if they Summon the Shadowlords into Sosaria.
¹With the rediscovery of the Land of the Feudal Lords, now called the Tokuno Islands, the Order and Chaos Guards called off their vain struggle. Neither had won. Indeed, neither could ever win -- how can up exist without down? With Lord Blackthorn dead at the end of his misguided quest for revenge, and Lord British united back into one flesh from all the shards of Brittania, the founders were gone.
Yet there are whispers about two who may yet rule Order and Chaos. Baron Lenshire was a commander in Lord Blackthorn's forces, and his ambition is obvious to all who know him. Perhaps he really is a disciple of Chaos; how can one truly know the heart of another? Then there is the Lady Iyona Kondo, who hails from the Tokuno Islands. She has proven to be a champion of Order. Can her influence spread into the lands of Brittania?
The Three Principles - Love, Truth, Courage
The Eight Virtues, Their Mantras, and Composition
The Shadowlords - Astaroth (hatred), Faulinei (falsehood), Nosfentor (cowardice)
Lord British - King of Brittania; not native to the world of Sosaria.
Lord Blackthorn - Friend to Lord British and Sosaria; a man of honor yet corruptible by pride. In the original world of Sosaria, he for a while became a dictator in sway to the Shadowlords. In the shards of Sosaria, his many selves fell under the sway of Exodus.
Mondain - An immensely powerful wizard who gained control of Sosaria by capturing it within the Gem of Immortality. Only when a stranger came to the world, could Mondain be killed and the evil Gem smashed. It is the shards of the Gem which form the many worlds of Ultima Online.
Minax - A wizard queen and mate of Mondain.
Exodus - Mechanical creation or unholy spawn of Mondain and Minax. Perhaps both. Has its own secret agenda and is unaffiliated with what it considers the petty ambitions of Minax.
the Avatar - once a stranger to Sosaria, he became a living embodiment of the Eight Virtues and defended the land many times against evil. Some say we should all strive to be such strangers.
imperterritus - undaunted, or as Italian friend told me, "stubborn, but in a good way"